Savchenko case is a verdict to the Russian judicial system, her lawyer says

Nadiya Savchenko in Donetsk City Court on 22 March 2016. Photo by Vladislav Ryazantsev.

Nadiya Savchenko in Donetsk City Court on 22 March 2016. Photo by Vladislav Ryazantsev. 

2016/03/23 - 18:39 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Article by: Nikolai Polozov

Savchenko’s lawyer Nikolai Polozov tells that now the decision-making was passed to the highest level of the political Olympus, and explains why.

The Russian has sentenced hero of Ukraine, member of the Verkhovna Rada, PACE delegate Nadiya Savchenko to 22 years in prison. No one had doubted such an outcome, no one had illusions – and not because Savchenko really committed what the court incriminated, but rather vice versa.

In any normal judicial system Savchenko would have been set free even before the court, during the prejudicial inquiry, exactly at the moment when the investigator received proof of her alibi. In any normal system, but not in the Russian investigative-judicial conveyor which has no reverse function, so that anyone trapped in it will be “ground into powder.”

In any normal judicial system Savchenko would have been set free even before the court, during the prejudicial inquiry, exactly at the moment when the investigator received proof of her alibi. – Nikolai Polozov

In circumstances when the law isn’t enforced in proper way, when officials, investigators, prosecutors, judges enforce rule of law in a selective way depending on the tasks set by their top-brass, the lawyer gets a special role. This is about a relatively low percent of so called “political” cases. Those in which criminal prosecution for views, political activity or counteracting the interests of authorities is only a tool of the repressive apparatus while the set of criminal accusations either can reflect the political character of the cases, e.g. “extremism,” or can have a strictly “domestic” character.

In such political cases the defender has a special role.

On one hand, he may perform a narrowly specialized function. It is declaration arguments of the defense to the inquiry, in the court, receiving refusals, filing complaints, passing all instances, appealing to the European Court on Human Rights, after all. That means performing all necessary legal actions, then washing hands off and going home.

Nadiya Savchenko burst into song when the verdict was announced on 22 March 2016:

At the same time, the law of the Russian Federation “About advocacy and lawyer activity” requires the lawyer to honestly, wisely and conscientiously defend the rights and interests of his client by all means which are not prohibited by the law of the Russian Federation.

Besides strictly legal actions, realization of right to freedom of speech and reaching for political mechanisms are among those means. Undoubtedly, the decisive role in making decisions regarding strategy and tactics of the defense plays the opinion of the defendant himself, the one whom the system “grinds into powder.”

It was Savchenko herself and her steel power of will that were the core of defense in dishonorable and despicable criminal case. – Nikolai Polozov

People are often ready for some moral compromise, are ready to give up on some principles for the sake of an immediate resolution of the situation. This is what “the system” is counting on.

Sometimes the person is ready to stand for her beliefs till the end. The history knows number of examples set by these people “made of steel.” Nadiya Savchenko is exactly a person like that. She was consistent at each stage of the criminal proceeding refusing to reach compromise, admitting guilt in what she didn’t commit. She was standing for the truth only. She stood for what actually happened instead of trying to help creating the convenient picture for the Russian authorities in exchange for freedom.

It was Savchenko herself and her steel power of will that were the core of defense in dishonorable and despicable criminal case in which tragic coincidences and mistakes leading to death of the journalists were incriminated by the investigation to Nadiya who was kidnapped from her country.

For the “system,” justice and law are decorations, not fundamental functions in themselves. – Nikolai Polozov

In this case the lawyers managed to fulfill the duties of defenders performing not only the narrowly specialized work in legal actions during prejudicial inquiry and in the court, but also by adding a political dimension to the case by making it public from the very beginning. In circumstances when investigation, prosecution, and court are just the props for making political decisions, only such “hybrid” advocacy can provide an adequate answer of the society to the pressure from the state. Using plain procedural actions in such political cases doesn’t provide the necessary result.

For the “system,” justice and law are decorations, not fundamental functions in themselves. Legal and procedural actions can only be the décor thanks to which the legal “purity” of the case can be achieved. That purity will later allow using the formed legal framework for making political decisions.

This is why the level of decision-making in Savchenko case now is on the very top of the political Olympus. Heads of states are forced to discuss the criminal case which in the very beginning was meant to be a small propaganda venture of a local significance. However, only this way will lead to her release.

We can say with confidence that the verdict of the Donetsk city court of Rostov Oblast of the Russian Federation has opened, not ended, the story of once a Ukrainian pilot, and now the hero of Ukraine and politician of the international level, Nadiya Savchenko.

Nadiya knows, that independently from the period of sentence, she will soon be free and will come home. And we have no reasons to doubt that.

Nikolai Polozov is a lawyer in Moscow. Before taking on the case of Nadiya Savchenko together with Mark Feygin and Ilya Novikov, he worked as a lawyer to the Russian punk group Pussy Riot. 

Translated by: Viktoriia Zhuhan
Source: Echo.msk.ru

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